This article is part of our The Reddit Madden League series.
I hate losing.
I imagine most people hate losing at most competitions they involve themselves in, so this shouldn’t come as a revolutionary concept. But there’s nothing that gets me more riled up then losing a game of Madden. For a guy that’s probably not competitive enough in most things at life, I’m fiercely competitive about a video game simulation of football. Lucky me. It’s certainly not the healthiest of vices, but then again, everyone has their demons.
So it’s safe to say I was distraught after my 34-24 loss to the Giants in the Wild Card Round of the first RML postseason. Simply put, I had been whooped, and solidly for that matter. After losing just four games all season, I had earned the right to host my first playoff game at home. But the familiar temple of the Packers would end up being my psyche’s demise, as the snow covered stadium was also upped in difficulty thanks to 12 mile-per-hour winds. Having lost a heartbreaker of a game against the Browns just a handful of contests prior, thanks in large part to Madden’s maddening ability to turn a capable quarterback into a worse rendition of Jay Cutler as soon as any sort of precipitation touches them, I was prepared for Marcus Mariota to bumble away the victory.
In truth, both quarterbacks played well, with Mariota and his Wild Card Round-counterpart, Andrew Luck, combining for over 641 yards and just six total incompletions. But it was the kicking game that felt frustratingly consistent with real life thanks to the wintery conditions, with my kicker, Jason Myers, missing multiple extra points and a critical game-tying field goal, in a wide variety of directions.
Couple that with my inability to stop Latavius Murray, who ran rampant for 140 yards on 13 attempts, and it should come as no surprise that I suffered my first postseason loss in Madden 18 (with many sure to follow). As I tried to grapple with the demoralizing defeat, I couldn’t help but shake the feeling I had let myself down, even if it weren't true. Sure, my goal heading into the year was simply to make the playoffs, knowing the quality of competitors in the league was on the rise with the new game drawing back many of the people who had left during my inaugural season of Madden 17.
But I still felt empty, poisoned with the gripping sense of regret that comes with any Madden loss. I couldn’t even blame it on outside factors, as even if I had made every kick, I likely still would have lost to the superior offense of the Giants. It’s embarrassing, but I was depressed following the loss. It didn’t make things better that my real life football season was thrown into shambles just a few hours prior, as Aaron Rodgers and his shattered collarbone were carted off in Minnesota. My escape from the sadness and stress of real life had always been football, both real and fake ("thanks Trump" doesn’t have the same ring as “thanks Obommba”). So what was I supposed to do when it was the cause of my unrelenting anguish?
A few days later, and I’m still not sure I have an answer.
I have to imagine this is how all professional athletes feel, just on a greater scale. For some reason, I take a bit of comfort in that. And perhaps I’m not alone in that feeling when it comes to my fellow Madden peers either, as there was many who seemed to be equally upset following their season-ending losses. I look forward to the offseason and eventual start of the new year, if only so I can wipe that bad taste from my mouth. Here’s hoping to better seasons to come!
Kentucky Cupcake Gets the Crown
It wasn’t exactly a surprise to see Titans walk away with the Madden 18 RML title, as many in the league had predicted owner Kentucky Cupcake would add to his trophy case this season, which he did with a 13-3 Super Bowl win. But it was a surprise to see the Cowboys, the NFC’s No. 1 seed, put together such a competitive performance, nearly coming away with the victory were it not for a handful of unfortunate circumstances.
A stifling defense by Titans, which I mentioned in the AFC breakdown as a key to watch for, was positively ferocious, limiting his opponent to 111 total yards. A Belichick-“ian” like defense saw some of the Cowboys best offensive weapons taken to task, with a heavy dose of zone-adjusted coverage relegating Dallas to a litany of checkdown throws. However, if you watch the broadcast, there was plenty of opportunities for bigger plays to emerge, particularly towards the right seam, with Titans correctly identifying the Cowboys would not have enough time to find the second or third read, which was often times running near the middle of the field uncontested. With a league still figuring out how to beat Kentucky Cupcake (19-0 season), taking advantage of, and recognizing the adjustments made to each zone coverage could pay dividends in any upset win.
There's been a lot of talk about the Super Bowl winner, but it should be pointed out that entering the new season, the Cowboys have emerged as one of the best teams in the league, and could rival their new AFC rival in dominance depending on how his offseason moves take place.
Wild Card Round
Steelers defeat Dolphins: 22-21
Buccaneers defeat Vikings: 31-17
Colts defeat Chiefs: 48-24
Giants defeat Packers: 34-24
Titans defeat Colts: 38-20
Cowboys defeat Giants: 35-10
Jets defeat Steelers: 23-13
Buccaneers defeat: 22-21
Cowboys defeat Buccaneers: 28-21
Titans defeat Jets: 40-8
Titans defeat Jets: 13-3